Climbing the Ladder of Needs

Many of the jobs that our young people will have in the future will address ‘flourishing needs’.

From the beginning of history up until about 1750 in Western Europe work was focused on meeting the ‘core needs’ of shelter, calories, communication, means of exchange and safety.


From 1750 onwards, jobs and businesses emerged to meet ‘comfort needs’ and the emergence of a middle class defined by these needs, amongst these we find freedom,companionship, indulgence, achievement, travel, entertainment, hygiene.

From the mid 1960’s there has been an increasing focus on organised economic activity to meet ‘flourishing needs’ - meaning, belonging, self-understanding,maturity, resilience, empathy, sympathy, wisdom, love – which in the past were catered to by religions and the arts but which are now more and more the basis for mainstream economic activity.

We can look at the changes in education as being part of this shift. Yes, we still need to build a body of knowledge and skills that allow young people to join society in a productive way, but the jobs of the future will be about flourishing.

We must meet the flourishing needs that our young people have so, in turn, they can fit more easily into the jobs and activities that are being created so that individuals and communities can flourish, in turn.

This is truly a historic shift.

John Corrigan